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The ‘circular economy’ is gaining momentum as a concept in both academic and policy circles as circular business models have been linked to significant economic benefits.

But a move in this direction will depend largely on the willingness of producers to implement good EPR – that is, extended producer responsibility.

This is the opinion of Dr Karen Raubenheimer, a researcher at the National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security, who spoke at the Plasticity 2017 conference in Sydney today.

“New amendments to waste regulation mean producers have to report how much their waste has decreased by each year,” she said.

“They must join an approved compliance scheme, and may receive penalties for not following the rules.”

One of the aims when introducing EPR schemes has often been to give producers an incentive to change product design in environmentally benign ways, for example by making it easier to reuse or recycle the products.

Assigning such responsibility, Raubenheimer said, supports the achievement of public recycling and materials management goals, and is the way forward for the circular economy.

The panel at Plasticity 2017 also discussed the possibility of a move to ensure all plastics manufactured had a minimum of 10 per cent recycled content.

“Consumers also need to be able to be proud they are buying products with recycled content,” Ocean Recovery Alliance founder Doug Woodring said.

“And recycled content adds sexiness to packaging in terms of brand appeal.

“We need a policy that addresses this issue.”

Plasticity Sydney is run as part of the Beyond Plastic Pollution Conference and was held today at the Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour. It served as a collaborative information sharing day that inspires delegates with practical plastics sustainability ideas.

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